I was recently working with a client who had lost her job after spending 16 years with her company. She was what you might think of as the ideal employee any company would be lucky to have: consistently punctual, always climbing the corporate ladder and absolutely in love with her job. What more could she (or her company) ask for? One day she was called into a meeting and received the news that no one ever wants to hear: The company she had tirelessly put all her sweat into, decided they didn’t need her or her position anymore. As she shared the story with me in a coaching session, she was devastated and lost for words. She was having a hard enough time coping but even more difficult was the thought of focusing on a new job search. Can you imagine why? The truth is her feelings were hurt!
Knowing that expressing her feelings would be an equally important part of the process, I gave her the opportunity to vent. I knew she needed it especially before mustering up the courage to start the job search. She was wondering:
“How could they let me go after all the hard work, dedication and ideas I put into the company? How can I afford to survive? Who is going to want to hire me now? I feel worthless and meaningless!”
Losing a job is never a fun thing and you are allowed to feel devastated temporarily, however wallowing in discouragement can prevent you from receiving what lies ahead. There comes a time when we have to kick it back into gear. We have to find the thing that keeps us going and remind ourselves about the truth of who we are. If this is you, feeling terrible about yourself or the circumstances you’re facing, I’m here to tell you there is hope after job loss. Here are some tips to help you pick yourself back up again!
1. Process the Pain
If you want to make it to the other side – the happy side of gainful employment you gotta process the pain. It’s the same with any healing process. Allow yourself to feel the thing that’s ticking you off, angering you or even fueling your fears on searching for a new job and being financially unstable. You owe it to yourself to be in touch with how you feel. Don’t try to swallow or repress the pain because it will only come back later.
One of the hardest times in my life was when I was unemployed. I thought to myself, “What the heck did I do wrong to end up without a job I’m college educated, well connected, I knew about the job search process,” (not as much as I do now of course). I took my time applying to a target number of jobs every day and strategically reached out to my network. I decide “every day when I’m done with my 8 job applications I’m going to go in the backyard and scream.” It became my ritual, I felt so much better and I processed the pain. My neighbors thought I was crazy, but eventually I got over the rejection and received some interview call backs too!
2. Move the Heck On!
How about some tough love for you! No one can wallow in pain forever. Life goes on and so will your job search if you allow it. Become productive. Ask yourself: “What can I do to make my life and the odds of landing an opportunity, better? Make a goal of how many jobs to apply to in a day, how many networking coffee dates to have a month or hire a career coach to assist you in the process. Whatever your strategy for finding a job develop it and move on quickly. Besides your livelihood is depending on it. I don’t know about you but I enjoy eating. Pardon me, Grey Poupon anyone? :)
3. Same Person Then, Same Person Now: Still Awesome!
Quick reminder: You are still awesome! You are the same person that landed the job you had. Meaning: you still have positive qualities, strengths, and abilities. Remind yourself of what those are. So often clients feel sorry for themselves and they forget how dynamic they are. One of my greatest enjoyments as a coach is helping clients renew their sense of self- esteem. Many times I work with women who feel meaningless when their job ends and I successfully coach them into seeing their light. Losing a job can feel like a punch in the gut but you have to fight back by affirming who you are and how awesome you are. Your greatness doesn’t go away because a job does. So look in the mirror give yourself a wink and put your best foot forward. P.S.-don’t forget to blow yourself a kiss while you’re at it!
4. Redefine Your Employment Terms
Guess what? Losing a job is like getting a do-over in life. Yup, you get to ask yourself how much do I really want to make this time around, what crap won’t I put up with, note to self: I need two extra vacation days this time. Think about what you want from your new employment terms and count it a blessing you’re given the chance to ask for them.